dealing with scary diagnosisNone of us want to be sitting in front of our physician and be told we have cancer or some other dreadful disease. Dealing with a scary diagnosis can be very frightening and it requires you prepare for how to respond beyond your understandable emotional reaction. Everyone is different and everyone copes with this type of news in various ways, but there is some things that could help anyone finding themselves in this situation.

In my work with psychotherapy clients over the years I have often found that people move through a range of emotions and it can be very helpful to have a professional counselor to support you through this process. Do not feel you have to go this alone.

Practical Ways for Dealing with a Scary Diagnosis

1) Be gentle with yourself.

A diagnosis of this sort will certainly change your life and you should not try to pretend it won’t. You have to get your priorities right and put yourself and your immediate health needs first. Be sure you attend all the medical appointments you should and do not worry if that means you miss from work. Your health is more important than any job, and a good boss will understand this. Often, people need time to digest what they have been told, and the best thing may be to take a few days break so that you can come to terms with it. Take your time. Breathe. Spend time with loved ones.

2) The initial shock and panic will not last forever.

The initial shock of hearing you have a serious heart problem after a routine appointment or finding out you have diabetes after your eye exam, does diminish after a while as you get used to the idea of what you have to cope with. The dread that engulfs you to start with does not last forever, especially when you see how many other people are leading very full lives with diseases similar to yours. The feeling of panic and high anxiety will lessen as you move through the process of dealing with this scary diagnosis. 

3) Learn as you go.

You should not expect to know everything about your illness right away. Ask your health practitioners for answers when you see them, as you will be able to explain to them what symptoms you are experiencing. Request resources for research and reading. Take it upon yourself to talk with others who are knowledgeable about the health issues you are facing as you are dealing with a scary diagnosis. Be active and eager to learn what you can realizing that anxiety can be managed when you feel empowered with knowledge. 

4)  Only tell who you want to tell.

You do not have to tell anyone about your illness unless you want to. It is your choice who knows and who doesn’t, and sometimes people prefer to keep it to themselves for a while. Others feel the opposite and want to tell their friends and family while others will join a support group or speak to a counselor, perhaps. This enables you to share what you are going through with people that understand and know how to help you develop helpful coping skills. 

5) Maintain a positive and hopeful outlook as much as possible. 

Staying positive is crucial if you are to get through this and be on the road to recovery or coping with a permanent illness. It changes your perspective on what is important in life, and that is not always a bad thing. Little things, like a hug or a wave, begin to mean so much more and material things start to matter so much less. I can be a painful process when dealing with a scary diagnosis and positive thinking may be easier said than done. Try keeping a gratitude journal and practice positive affirmations and mindfulness. 

Anyone that has had to deal with a scary diagnosis, can tell you that in some ways it was a life-enhancing experience. They will let you know that although you may have to undergo some pretty rough treatments, you can come out the other side a stronger person.